‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ wins top VES Award and becomes Oscars frontrunner

At the 10th annual Visual Effects Society awards on Tuesday, “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” won visual effects in a visual effects-driven feature motion picture. Two of its Oscars rival were in that race  — “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2,” and “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” —  as were “Captain America” and “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.” (Full list of winners here.)

One of the other Oscar contenders is “Hugo,” which won the supporting visual effects prize over “Anonymous,” “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows,” “Source Code” and “War Horse.” “Hugo” celebrates the life of movie pioneer George Meilies and the VES bestows an honorary award in his name; this year’s recipient was Douglas Trumbull. “Real Steel,” which is the final Oscar nominee was snubbed by the VES.

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On the animated front, “Rango” swept with victories for visual effects, character, created environment and virtual cinematography.  “The Adventures of Tintin,” which had reaped a leading six bids, was shut out.

“Apes” and “Hugo” both picked up another prize while “Transformers” tied them with two wins as well. Among TV shows, “Boardwalk Empire” and “Game of Thrones” won two awards apiece. 

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Last year, “Inception” won all four of its bids including the top prize. It went on to win the Oscar for Best Visual Effects. In 2009, “Avatar” won six of the seven VES races in which it contended and also prevailed at the Academy Awards. At the VES, “Avatar” is tied with “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” for second place while “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” reigns supreme with seven awards. 

Three years ago, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” won the top prize with both the VES and the Oscars. However, in 2007, the top VES winner “Transformers” lost the Visual Effects Oscar to “The Golden Compass.” Over the first five years of the VES kudos, the winners matched four times: in 2006 (“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest”), 2005 (“King Kong”), 2003 (“The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”) and 2002 (“The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers”). In 2004, the VES chose “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” while the Oscar went to “Spider-Man 2.”

Nominees in 23 categories of film, animation, television, commercials, special venues and video games were chosen by VES members who viewed submissions at the FotoKem screening facilities in Burbank and New York, FotoKem’s Spy in San Francisco, and facilities in London, Sydney, Vancouver and Wellington. Winners were announced during a ceremony at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Stan Lee received the lifetime achievement award and Reelz Channel is to air the ceremony. 

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